These Are the States That Were Asking Residents to Wear Masks in Public Before the CDC's Recommendation

Several states and locations around the U.S. had already called for citizens to wear face masks before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation Friday evening.

President Donald Trump announced the CDC recommendation at Friday's coronavirus task force briefing, though he said he likely wouldn't wear a mask.

"The CDC is advising the use of nonmedical cloth face covering as a voluntary public health measure," Trump said. "So, it's voluntary, you don't have to do it. They suggest it for a period of time. This is voluntary. I don't think I'm going to be doing it."

Governors or state health officials in at least five states called for residents to follow the preventative measure earlier on Friday. Michigan, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland and Pennsylvania all recommended that residents cover their faces when leaving their homes. Similar suggestions were made at the local level, in locations including New York City and Los Angeles, California.

"Wearing a mask will help us cut down the possibility that we might be infecting an innocent bystander, like the grocery store cashier, the pharmacist, or someone stocking shelves," Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said in a statement.

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Officials are recommending the public wear face masks made of cloth or other material when venturing outside their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Getty

Until recently, health officials had been urging the public to not use masks during the pandemic, simultaneously claiming that the masks were essential for medical personnel but ineffective for the public.

Although new research informed calls for the public to use masks or face coverings, the earlier recommendations were likely made in an effort to maintain supplies for health care workers who are far more likely to be directly exposed to the virus and have a greater need for medical-grade masks.

Officials have specifically suggested that the public use masks made of cloth or cover faces with items like scarves or bandanas, rather than take vital supplies from those who need them more. Although these items are less effective than the N95 respirators or surgical masks used by medical professionals, they do provide varying levels of protection.

"We do not want anyone, anybody who's not a first responder or a health care worker to go anywhere near surgical masks or N95s," said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on WNYC radio's The Brian Lehrer Show Friday. "Those are only for the people fighting the frontline battle."

Recent research has suggested that the virus may be spread far easier than initially thought, with small amounts of respiratory droplets generated by an infected person talking or breathing being a possible mode of transmission. The virus may also be easily spread due to asymptomatic infections, which experts believe could constitute up to 25 percent of all cases.

Newsweek reached out to the CDC for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.